The 7 Best Wesley Snipes Movies
Wesley Snipes is known the world over for his portrayal of the titular half-vampire vampire hunter in Blade and its sequels as well as Sidney Deane, one of the central characters in White Men Can’t Jump. Deservedly so; ask just about anyone familiar with Snipes and they will refer to one or both as his best work to date. But even those films aside, his filmography is rich. He is as suited to comedy as he is action. Regardless of genre, he wholly commits to his roles. Whether he plays a ruthless criminal—like in Demolition Man—or a sharp-tongued drag queen — like in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar — he gives a full-hearted performance. Here are seven of his absolute best.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Hot off of his baseball romantic comedy Bull Durham, former ballplayer Ron Shelton took his talent for sports filmmaking to basketball. Woody Harrelson plays a hustler named Billy Hoyle. Because of his ethnicity, his opponents assume he is a poor streetball player. Sidney Deane (Snipes) first falls for his scheme but decides that the two teaming up would be mutually beneficial. With great supporting performances from Rosie Perez and Tyra Ferrell, White Men Can’t Jump has a timeless appeal. Among its many accolades, the film was one of director Stanley Kubrick’s personal favorites.
Snipes gives a strong performance as Blade, a superhero torn between two worlds. Blade is a daywalker, a human/vampire hybrid as the result of his mother being bitten by a vampire while carrying him. Now an adult, Blade hunts vampires with the help of his mentor Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). He finds himself the target of a radical faction of vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff). Deacon and his crew intend to use Blade to bring about the end of humanity. To this day, it is one of the most entertaining live-action superhero films, along with its sequel.
Blade II (2002)
Following the success of the first film, Guillermo del Toro was given the reins to the Blade franchise and ran with it. Snipes delivers another undeniably cool performance as the eponymous hero. This time, Blade finds himself working side-by-side with those who have sworn to kill him. Blade and a gang of vampires called the Bloodpack to unite to end an epidemic sweeping throughout the vampire world. This disease turns basic vampires into reapers, which are markedly more powerful than a typical bloodsucker. With supporting performances from Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus and more, Blade II is a more-than-satisfying sequel.
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
In To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, Snipes and Patrick Swayze play drag queens Noxeema Jackson and Vida Boheme. Having just completed a drag contest in New York City, they set their sights on another competition in Los Angeles, California. With the rookie drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo) newly under their wing, they hit the road. Unfortunate circumstance strikes, however, and the trio find themselves stranded in the midwest. Before long, they turn the sleepy town of Snydersville upside down with their presence. With a strong supporting cast behind them — including Stockard Channing and Robin Williams — Snipes and company deliver a truly wonderful romp.
Demolition Man (1993)
In Demolition Man, Snipes and Sylvester Stallone go head-to-head. Two men, a criminal and a crimefighter, are both cryogenically frozen in the back end of the 20th century. They awaken decades later to find themselves in an essential utopia. This utopia, however, is mal-equipped to deal with a master criminal like Snipes’ Simon Phoenix. The task is left to Stallone’s Sergeant John Spartan and his new contemporary Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) to recapture him. It is a campy, action-packed science fiction film.
Spike Lee has proven time and time again how valuable his unique voice is in the film industry. Chi-Raq is no different. Here, Lee takes the Greek comedy Lysistrata and changes the setting to modern-day Chicago. In both, a woman named Lysistrata (played in Lee’s adaptation by Teyonah Parris) becomes frustrated with the bloodshed occurring on her soil. Her solution is to organize a sex strike until the violence ceases. Snipes gives a key performance as Sean “Cyclops” Andrews, the leader of the Trojans, one of the warring South Side gangs. With great performances from the aforementioned cast as well as Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, and Samuel L. Jackson, it is a must-see.
King of New York (1990)
Two years before he would release his most famous film, Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel, Abel Ferrara made King of New York. In it, a recently-released drug kingpin named Frank White (Christopher Walken) tries to make good in his community by rising to the top of the ranks once more. He finds this much easier said than done as the underworld he once knew is more savage than ever. What’s more, he has a team of narcotics officers — Snipes, with David Caruso and Victor Argo) nosing their way into his business. It is a gripping film to be sure and foreshadows Ferrara’s undeniable talent as a filmmaker.
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